Bookkeeping Basics for Small Business Owners

Erika Millard, a Bookkeeping Coach who loves teaching female business owners how to manage their own books & actually understand numbers in order to make smart business decisions, reshapes the narrative around financial management.

Her perspective, forged by addressing common negative experiences in the financial industry, centers on making bookkeeping accessible and transformative. She actively demystifies misconceptions and financial jargon, fostering a safe space for questions. For those starting DIY bookkeeping, Erika advises the initial use of a spreadsheet and recommends transitioning to accounting software like QuickBooks or Xero as businesses grow. 

Choosing accounting software involves considerations of features, ease of use, and professional support availability. Erika’s emphasis on consistent bookkeeping as a habit underscores its power in informed decision-making and business success.

Erika Millard’s home-based business journey


All right, everybody, welcome back to the Homemakers in Business podcast. Today, I’ve got a great new friend and business owner, Erica, with me. We’re going to be talking all about her business journey and DIY bookkeeping. Erica, would you like to tell us a little bit more about yourself, what you do, who you help, just whatever you want to tell us?

Erika Millard

Yeah, well, thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to be here. I’m Erica and we recently moved to Birmingham, Alabama. Stephanie and I actually got to meet in person recently which was so fun.

I’m married and I have three kids with a fourth on the way. I have an accounting background and started in full-service bookkeeping, but now I love helping those who are DIYing their bookkeeping.

Those who can’t quite afford a full-service bookkeeper, but still need that support and want to understand their finances and get their bookkeeping all organized and ready for tax season. So those are the people that I love helping. I do that in a few different ways, which we may talk about later.

And when I’m not working, I love being with my kids. I have three with a fourth on the way and we all really like sweet treats. So we’re pretty much in any ice cream or cookie places that you can find nearby. And then we love to be outside too and it’s not blazing hot here. So any outdoor festivals or activities or nature things, that’s where you can usually find us.


I love that. You’ll have to tell me about all the sweet shops and stuff that you found in Birmingham since you moved because I live a little bit, for everyone that doesn’t know, I live about an hour north of Birmingham. So I’m familiar with the area, but it’s usually going for events or something at the BJCC. So I’m not super familiar with the local places. So that’s something fun you’ll have to tell me about later.

Erika Millard

Yeah, we definitely could. We have a list already now.


That’s awesome. So let’s start back at the beginning of your business. You said you have an accounting background and you soon started doing accounting for small businesses or did you work for a corporation or something? Just how did you transition from accounting to being a bookkeeping coach?

Erika Millard

Yeah, so it’s kind of funny. I started in accounting because I wanted to be in the FBI. They at the time were recruiting for white-collar crimes because that was becoming more and more of a thing and so they needed special agents with an accounting background. So I was like, oh, that’d be awesome! Like this five-foot-two blonde girl. No one would suspect me. And so anyway, so that’s still like an unfulfilled dream, I guess.


That’s so fun. Ha ha!

Erika Millard

Yeah, so I went into accounting and then worked in both public and private accounting for several years. And then when I got pregnant, I knew that I wanted to be home with my son. And it’s funny, you know, looking back. So at the time, I asked my job if I could work from home for a few days and they said no, which is funny now because the whole accounting department works from home permanently. But things were different then.

Erika Millard

So I had considered starting my own business, but I just wasn’t sure if that’s exactly what I wanted to do, if I wanted to be my own boss and not have someone overseeing things. But it was a good experience. 

I was sitting in Starbucks with a girl that I had babysat when she was little and she was about to go to college and she was thinking about going into accounting. So she asked if we could just meet together to talk about the different opportunities and jobs that you can do in accounting. And so a man overheard us talking and leaned over and he said, well, I could use someone and I don’t care if they work from home. And so that became my first client.

Yeah, so that was just a crazy story that just kind of propelled me into starting my own business, and then my full-service bookkeeping just grew honestly by word of mouth. I didn’t do any marketing, which is also crazy looking back on. I had just a profile in QuickBooks that people could find me and so again, through kind of crazy stories like the venue where we got married at was looking for someone. They found me on that directory and were like, oh, we know her. And so they hired me for a while. 

And then anyway, so I just had several stories like that. And so I did that for several years and over time I just started to feel bored. I started to feel unfulfilled. Like I think I have some other giftings that just aren’t quite being utilized but I didn’t know what else that would look like.

I thought about abandoning bookkeeping altogether and doing some other things. And so anyway, thankfully at just the right time, I found a retreat to go to. Shout out to the Society of Women Business Owners. I went to that retreat and through that, they just helped me realize I had never identified who an ideal client was, really who I enjoyed working with.

And so I quickly found that nobody I was working with was the perfect fit. I left that retreat thinking, okay, I wanna work with high-level, very successful female business owners and help them understand their financials and get into strategy and things like that. 

Then I found as I started marketing my business for the first time, who I connected with was more other mompreneurs, other people that wanted a balance between working from home and running their business or they had some kind of just passion and purpose that really started their business and they didn’t mean to start a business necessarily. It was just kind of like this fun hobby or thing that started and turned into something that made a lot of money.

And so within a few months, I had probably three or four different people say, well, I can’t afford a full-service bookkeeper, but could you just teach me how to use QuickBooks? Or could you just look at my spreadsheet and make sure it’s not like really wrong? Or can you just help me understand? Like I see these reports, but I don’t know what they mean.

And so I started to think, okay, well maybe there’s something here. And so I started to research, well, who is helping this population of people that aren’t quite ready for a full-service bookkeeper but are doing their bookkeeping and just need some guidance. I really didn’t see a ton out there. 

I kind of threw together a few coaching packages in the beginning just to see what it could potentially become. After all of those calls, I was like, this is so fun. I could do this all day. I think it just helped me. It was cool to see because like I mentioned, I kind of felt like I had some giftings that were unused and I think it’s a rare person that can teach accounting. 

Stereotypically, accountants are very good at being in the details, but not always the best people or explainers. And so anyway, so it just felt like, okay, maybe this is part of what makes me unique and different is that I can take these complicated principles and break them down to make them easier for people to understand. 

It’s been a couple of years now that I’m still, to be honest, I’m still, you know, tweaking things, trying to get services and packages just right. But I love supporting and educating people that they can understand the numbers. 

I think a lot of times in the industry we get told, we’ll just leave that to the experts. And there are definitely some principles and complicated accounting things. But for the most part, for the everyday business owner, there’s plenty of stuff that you can understand and do yourself. And so that’s what I’m really passionate about educating and bringing to people is you can feel empowered to understand the basics to make better decisions.


Amazing. You know, as a brand and website designer, the thing that stuck out to me most about your story just now is how much you know your unique differentiating factor, like, you know, what sets you apart from other bookkeepers, other accountants, and you’ve really started to capitalize on that and built your own special business around it. And it looks like that’s going really well for you.

Erika Millard

Thanks, yeah, you know, if anyone else is kind of in that place, it is a little intimidating at first because I didn’t see a ton of people doing it. I even struggled to know what I even call myself for a while because just getting the title or whatever, like I don’t really fit in this bucket, but I don’t really fit in this bucket either, 

And how do you specifically speak to those people? So anyway, I will say, like I said, it’s still…kind of a work in progress in some things because it’s not quite defined, but I think there are more and more people now serving this population of people too, so I’m not like the only one out there like I felt like I was in the beginning.


Yeah. That’s awesome though, that you’re serving such a small niche though, that it has taken a while for you to find others like yourself, even though it is a really needed thing that you’re doing. 

For myself, I don’t have an account. I mean, I have an accountant who works on my tax stuff, but I don’t have a bookkeeper who works with me every month. I do my own books. I’m your target audience. 

And something that I love that you started doing recently is your podcast. So can you tell us a little bit about that? Because you’re doing an amazing job of breaking down all of these complicated but keeping terms and like making people feel more comfortable with their numbers.

Erika Millard

Yeah, thank you. Yeah, my show is Get Comfy with Numbers. And in that show, I just really want to help break down all the financial jargon, anything that feels intimidating or stuffy, or I kind of said, like, oh, that’s for the experts. 

I try to take some of those topics and make them more practical and realistic so that you can look at your reports and know, okay, that’s kind of what these words mean. This is what it’s supposed to be telling me. 

And then I, in certain episodes, I show you, okay, well, here are some other things to be looking at so that you can start to get more comfortable. Honestly, just looking at the reports can be a big step. If you’re not used to looking at it consistently or even at all, you can start to look and see, okay, well maybe these are terms that I need some help with or maybe I don’t quite understand why this is happening.

On my show, I give some tips for if you’re new starting out, start to look at these things and you’ll see either trends or you’ll see, I’ll give you some questions to ask of maybe you don’t need to be doing this but you need to be doing this instead and so again, just really helping people get comfortable so that they feel empowered to be able to look at it and then make decisions for themselves.

I totally respect what bookkeepers do, but I do think there is a time and a place in your business where you need to know it for yourself so that you can make decisions and not just feel like people are advising you on what to do, but you don’t really understand why. And so through just different conversations with people, I hear two things frequently. 

The first is that, well, I hired this bookkeeper, but I don’t know what I’m doing. So I don’t know if they know what they’re doing, but I don’t know how to know if they are doing what they’re supposed to be doing because I don’t know anything about it. That is kind of a red flag to me. Like if you don’t know the basics, then it’s really hard to assess if someone is one helping and supporting you, but then two advising you in the right direction. 

I love supporting people and for a season, it’s right for you to understand it and do it yourself. Also so that you can understand and respect and feel good about paying a bookkeeper because then you’ll know, wow, this is all of the stuff that they are doing for me.


Oh, I agree with that. I started taking my books seriously and trying to figure out what I didn’t know, probably, let’s see, we’re going into 2024, so probably three years ago, this will be going into my fifth year of business. And I’m still doing my books on my own. I don’t feel like I’m at a place where I need to hire.

I don’t have enough transactions. It’s not complicated enough that I need someone to be doing this for me. So I’m trying to allocate that money for other things. And I already have my eye on a bookkeeper that I want to work with eventually, but it’s probably going to be a little way down the road before I do that.

I love what you’re doing. I’ve been listening to your podcast every time you drop a new episode because it’s so helpful to someone like me who’s doing it on their own.

I use Xero for my bookkeeping software, and there are so many tabs, so many things you can do, and so many reports you can make. There’s just so much to be confused by that it’s hard to know what is important to be familiar with at this point in business. So your podcast has been really helpful in that. And your Instagram account and all that good stuff that you do.

Erika Millard

Thank you. Yeah, I hope to be that stepping stone. So like I said, even if ultimately your goal is to hire a bookkeeper, I think that’s great and there’s a time and a place that you need that in your business. But until then, I hope to be that support in between so that you’re not just left to Google because then that can be frustrating.


Yeah, and you typically gear your message toward service providers, right? So not e-commerce businesses or anything like that, or do you work with those types of people?

Erika Millard

Yeah, I work mostly with service providers and or those that have digital products, and more online business. But I just recently connected with someone who does something similar for product-based businesses. So I can share that info if there are any product-based listeners right now too.


Oh yeah, that’s something we can put in the show notes alongside your links too. So that’s awesome. All right. So let’s talk a little bit more about your pivot in business before we get into more of the actual like DIYing your bookkeeping stuff. So you started out as an accountant and transitioned to being a bookkeeping coach. 

What made you decide to pivot your business from being a regular accountant who does people’s books every month to coaching them through the DIY? What were the factors that went into that?

Erika Millard

Yeah, I feel like there were lots of pieces that finally just came together. So the first one is just I was unfulfilled in what I was doing with full-service bookkeeping. So I kind of had in the back of my mind, it was time for a change. And you know, I think sometimes we can just get so caught in, well, this is the norm, this is just kind of how it is. And so sometimes I wish I had done it sooner.

I was content to just be okay for a while. And so I think you kind of have to get to that point if you’re in that place where you’re just you’re ready to figure something different out and make a change. And if you’re not there, I think that’s okay too. But you have to like be ready for it because it is a lot of work. I don’t want to make it just sound like, oh, this was just like so easy. It’s been a lot of work.

Another factor, so when I started just thinking through, okay, well, what is next? I feel like it was really helpful to have some insight from other people. Just having people ask you those really thought-provoking questions of, well, is it the people that you’re working with? Is it the actual work? Or is it that you’re just burnt out and you need some help or support? Is it just that you need maybe some systems or some tech to do some of this stuff for you? 

I actually still have, a lot of people probably don’t know this, but I still have a couple for full service, but keeping clients. And now I just have a few assistants that help me with some of that work. And it’s made it so much better.

I enjoy it so much more because I’m not doing all of like the nitty gritty stuff. And so anyway, so just having people ask you those questions, thinking through, well, what is it specifically about this that doesn’t quite feel fulfilling? And then I would say on the other spectrum was people started asking me for it. And that was kind of the thing that I didn’t expect. 

But if you start to listen to the people that you’re connecting with and listen to what their problems are, listen to what they’re asking. And if you start to see a theme, that’s probably a great trigger of, okay, there’s something there that you could probably sell. And so again, just having those people walk with me to say, okay, this is what I’m hearing from all of these people. Like, what could I package that into? What could this look like? 

I feel like all of those factors kind of played into how I got to where I am today. But I also want to say it’s taken a lot of trial and error. So it wasn’t just like the first time I pivoted, the same the package was amazing. Like I had to really take a step and then figure out, OK, well, how did that go? Did I like this? Did I not like this part?

Is this sustainable? You know, asking yourself all of those kind of questions. And so I have tweaked it and tweaked it and tweaked it over these last two and a half years. And it’s still probably not exactly what it’s going to be even in a year. If I’m being super honest, but I think that’s also just part of the business too, being able to adapt to the times and what people are buying now and what they need now. Because needs change, you know.

This economy has changed what business owners are doing too. And so it’s kind of that balance too of like sticking with something but also being ready to adapt when it’s necessary. I think sometimes that’s hard to figure out which camp you need to be in. But anyway, all of those factors played into my pivot.


Those are all great things for people to be on the lookout for if they’re feeling that they need to make a change in their business too. Even if someone’s just starting, you know you want to have a business, but you don’t know exactly what you want to do yet, just try a bunch of things. 

See what sticks, pay attention to what your audience is saying that they want from you. I think that’s something that a lot of people get hung up on is feeling like they don’t know what to create because they’re not listening to what people are telling them that they want them to create.

I love that you mentioned listening to your audience’s feedback and that they wanted this service from you. And so you created it for them. And I think that’s just a really good thing to keep in mind.

Erika Millard

Yeah, and again, kind of speaking to that, I don’t feel like people talk about enough. I had a couple of packages that flopped. I had a couple of things that like, okay, this wasn’t quite it, so let me go back. And then I’ve also done a bunch of market research and just really tried to talk to the people, ask surveys and questions. And I feel like that has been a great driver too of, okay, the people are saying consistently they want this thing. 

That has helped me to feel more solid about which direction to go. So that was another thing if you’re kind of like, I don’t know if I should create this freebie or this freebie or I don’t know if I should do a podcast or a blog or I don’t know if I should do just go ask the people that you ideally want to work with because a lot of times they have a lot of opinions.

How bookkeeping can empower you as a female business owner


Oh, absolutely. I love that. All right. So now let’s go ahead and get into the finance talk. So you talk about in your podcast, especially you talk about wanting bookkeeping to be an empowering thing, especially if you’re doing it yourself. Can you explain how you came to view bookkeeping in this way? Like how you describe it as being fun and empowering and things like that.

Erika Millard

Yeah, so after, you know, part of my pivot was also just feeling honestly mad at the financial industry. So I also had several conversations with people of, well, every time I talk to my CPA, I cry because I feel so dumb or I went to the bank and tried to open a bank account and they just like made me feel very belittled like my business didn’t matter like I didn’t know what I was doing.

And so after hearing those themes over and over, I also just felt this new sense of passion and purpose – it does not have to be this way. We don’t need to treat people this way, number one.

I also just want to publicly say, that if you work with a CPA or any kind of financial professional that makes you feel like that, find a different one because there are some really good ones out there that don’t act like that. Again, just trying to figure out, okay, well, what’s the best method for delivering that? But I think too just seeing some of the transformations even within the clients that I’ve helped so far of just I had one lady who said, I just want you to know I failed accounting in college.

So every time I look at numbers, it feels so intimidating because that is what plays in my mind or lots of people will automatically say, well, I’m just not a numbers person, or like I’m not good at math or, you know, all of those types of themes. And so being able to help people see like that’s where they started out and then pretty quickly over just a session or two together.

We can, once you understand how to use the system that you’re using or even the spreadsheet that you’re using, and then hearing people say, oh, I was like so worried about this and I’m actually in a better spot than I thought I was or oh, okay, this isn’t as hard as I thought it was gonna be. 

It’s just now, I needed to know the pieces to do or the pieces to where things were and now that you’re saying that it’s like oh that’s not as hard as I thought so I think there’s a lot of mental, and mindset things that go along with bookkeeping and money and I think a lot of us bring our past experiences our childhood you know there are so many factors that play into that even college experiences like that one client and so anyway just being able to see the transformations pretty quickly continues to make me feel so passionate that like this doesn’t have to be that hard.


Relate to that client that you said failed a book or an accounting course because I failed a math course in college and that subsequently made me lose my scholarship so I’ve had a lot of hang-ups around money and finances and bookkeeping and all that stuff and not to mention I just hate math so it’s not even that I’m not good at it.

I probably could be good at it if I tried but I just don’t like it. Finances are such a different thing because we live our lives around the money that we make. It’s what allows us to buy food and a house and all this stuff. 

It’s so important to get for lack of a better term, to just get over these hangups that we have and understand the things that we need to understand to run our business well and therefore our lives better.

Erika Millard

Yeah, and so like one of my clients, she was a self-proclaimed, I’m not a numbers person and her husband still helps her with some of her bookkeeping for her business, but she does now look at her reports and she told me later, she’s like, Erika, this is actually fun. So the same girl who said that she wasn’t a numbers person was like, this is actually fun because now I can look at a report.

I can see how my business is doing and then I can make decisions from that. So do I need this subscription? Is this networking group giving me the return that I signed up for? Are these ads working that I’m running? Which of my packages is selling better than the other?

And maybe it’s time to get rid of one because another one is doing so much better than another. All of those kinds of things you can’t assess if you haven’t been doing your bookkeeping and then you can’t assess if you don’t know what to do when your bookkeeping is done. 

And so a lot of times I also see business owners, well, I filed my taxes, I did my bookkeeping for taxes and so that’s good enough. And that is a good step. But really if you want to feel empowered, you can do it by the numbers and be able to make decisions, you gotta take it a step further and look at those reports and start to learn the trends to look for and the different questions, even to just ask yourself when you’re looking at it. So that is what I love helping people do.


It definitely helps you to be a more decisive business owner and feel like you have a little bit more control over all the aspects of your business. Because owning a business ultimately comes down to making a profit. Because if you’re not making a profit, then you’re not running a business or you’re not running it very well. 

It is so important to know these numbers. And I just think it’s so awesome that you’re doing this the way that you are because it makes people like me who are not numbers people feel so much better about their numbers. So kudos to you for that.

Erika Millard

Thank you.

Demystifying bookkeeping misconceptions


What is the most common misconception about bookkeeping that you hear and how would you demystify that for people that are just starting?

Erika Millard

Yeah, I think a big one, I kind of hit on this before, but it’s just like, oh, we need to leave that to the experts. And again, I kind of hate that phrase because in some ways, like I said, in some ways, yes, that’s true. There are complicated factors. Honestly, I think a tax person is probably a better expert to invest in the beginning.

Personally, just because taxes change so frequently and that’s one thing you don’t want to get on the IRS’s bad side. But yeah, that’s one thing that frustrates me just hearing that, oh, well, this is too complicated for you. Just let us handle it. There are so many things that the everyday person can understand with just a little bit of education.

I think a lot of the terms are confusing because so many things like even accountant and bookkeeper get interchanged all the time and there are just so many terms that people throw around and I think that’s one thing that is a disservice to people because then there are so many business owners that feel like, man I should know what all these words mean, but I don’t and I don’t know how to ask without feeling dumb because I’m probably the only one that doesn’t know what that means.

That’s another thing that I hope to do with my podcast and just my Instagram community is to be a safe place where you can ask any question without any shame. I would rather know what is confusing because even for me, I try to break it down simply, but sometimes I even forget, oh yeah, people don’t even know what that word means so it’s helpful to hear. 

If you kind of need that place that you almost want to whisper it to because you don’t want to feel dumb in a group setting, I’m your girl.


Oh yeah. My favorite part about your podcast is where you break down the jargon. Like at the end of a podcast episode, that’s so much fun. I learn something every time even if it’s a term that I’m somewhat familiar with, I’m like, you said that so much more simply than I could have explained it, or even Google could have explained it. I love that about your podcast.

Erika Millard

Yay! Yeah, I feel like I need a fun name for it. So if anyone has an idea for demystifying financial jargon, that’s kind of what I have gone with now. But yeah, at the end of each episode, I try to take a term that is confusing or just used frequently and break it down in simple terms so that if you went and looked at a report or if somebody used that word in a conversation that you would feel like, oh yeah, okay, I know what that is.

How to start DIYing your bookkeeping


Let’s talk a little bit more about actually DIYing your bookkeeping. So for someone that is just starting, like let’s say they’re just starting a business or maybe they’re a couple of years into business and they’ve just kind of loosely kept up with their finances.

Maybe they still have their business expenses in with their personal account and things like that. Where is someplace that they can begin to start doing their bookkeeping more correctly?

Erika Millard

Yeah, so one of the very first steps would be to open a business checking account. Even if you want to just do a separate personal checking account, you want to separate those personal and business expenses, especially if you’re an LLC, if that is your legal structure.

Every time I post about this, attorneys chime in and they’re like, yes, please tell people that if you’re an LLC, you have to keep it separate.

What a lot of people don’t know is that if you co-mingle, which means if you mix your personal and your business expenses too much, then it can make the LLC designation non-existent. So it doesn’t even protect you like you think it’s going to, because we can’t figure out what’s business and what’s personal? It’s too confusing to see that.

That would be one of the first steps. And that’s where you might kind of struggle with your bank because banks don’t always understand that you can be a sole proprietor and run your business under your social security number. Sometimes that can get a little complicated, but just a separate account and then do your very best to run every business transaction through that separate account.

Only use your business card when you’re making purchases. Now there are situations for all of us when we’re out and we don’t have that card and we can make that work but just start a new habit of only using that business account for business expenses. So that would be the very first step. And then another thing is it’s fine to use a spreadsheet for a while. I think people get really caught up in do I need a spreadsheet? Do I need a software?

Which software because there are so many options and how do I learn this software? And so for a season of time, a spreadsheet totally works. And then most people ask me, well, when am I ready to graduate to an accounting platform like QuickBooks, Xero, Wave, or some of those things? And it’s when you’re spending a lot of time manually updating that spreadsheet.

So if you’re typing in a ton of numbers, you know, for some businesses, you have subscriptions and that’s pretty much all of your expenses minus a couple of things here and there. So that’s where a spreadsheet is great because you can just drag that recurring expense all the way across and that’s pretty easy. 

But when you start to get to several transactions a month that are just a little bit more complicated or you’re just tired of updating the spreadsheet and making sure all the formulas are working right then that’s where software can help automate some of that for you. 

So the cool thing and a couple of reasons why you might want to use software would be it can automate some of those things for you. So like let’s say you have a Flodesk email subscription. You can for one time set it so Flodesk is advertising and marketing. Let’s say that’s the category that you pick.

And then you can set a rule so that always, anytime it sees Flodesk, it will automatically categorize it to advertising and marketing for you. So anyway, it will just help you automate some of those things. Also, if you start to need an invoicing platform, you can invoice through most accounting platforms. 

And when you start to need to pay contractors or payroll, that’s another time where it’s probably time a spreadsheet is, you know, you can piecemeal things together for a while, but something all-encompassing is a little bit easier to work with once you get to a certain point. So those are kind of the first steps. Just figuring out first, open that bank account, then figuring out, okay, what system or software I’m going to use. And then really my third tip is to make a plan to consistently do your bookkeeping.

Set it in your calendar. I have a podcast episode just about hacks to make it more fun and enjoyable. Tying a fun treat or a fun reward for after you’ve done your bookkeeping. A lot of my clients have done that, especially in the beginning, just to develop the habit of actually doing it. 

And then they don’t need it after a while. But when you’re trying to form a new habit, it can be fun to have a treat, a reward, or something. Some of my clients are the opposite and they’re more motivated by pain so they won’t pay themselves until they’ve done their bookkeeping. I think that’s a harsh one but it works. 

I have several tips and tricks like that but just if you can’t do it monthly if that feels too much then at least start doing it quarterly and slowly build that muscle, that consistency muscle, and then move to monthly. 

A lot of my clients can do their bookkeeping in less than an hour a month, including invoicing, if they just sit down and focus and get it done. And so at that point, it’s not even worth, can I even say this? It’s not even worth hiring a bookkeeper if it only takes you about an hour.

So that is my goal for most people is just that it’s simple and easy to do and doesn’t take you a ton of time.


One of my podcast guests a couple of weeks ago, she had talked about, I don’t remember the name of the book this came from, but when it came down to tasks in your business, it was talking about eliminating, automating, and then delegating. So eliminate what you can from your business. If you don’t absolutely need to be doing something, then eliminate it. Obviously, you need to be doing your bookkeeping so you can’t eliminate it. 

The next best thing would be to automate it. Putting a recurring task into your scheduler or something like that, that says, Hey, on Fridays at nine o’clock, I do my bookkeeping. That’s one way to get yourself to get into the habit of doing it, especially if you’re doing like a spreadsheet to begin with. That’s how I started my bookkeeping was with a spreadsheet. 

It just got to the point where it was taking me so much time to input the transactions into the spreadsheet that I was like, okay, there’s gotta be a better way that I can automate it. That’s when I got into Xero. 

It does make it so much easier because if you do skip a month, at least the transactions are there in your account. All you have to do is go back and reconcile all of it, check it, and do all that good stuff. So I love what you said that you don’t need a bookkeeper to begin with.

However, once you get past that automation phase everything’s starting to get a little bit more muddy and you need help with those transactions, then you can delegate and hire that bookkeeper. So I think that’s important for people to note that there are different phases of business for everything that needs to be done. 

Sometimes you’re going to do things yourself. Sometimes you’re going to automate it and sometimes you’re going to hire it out. I just love how that kind of flowed with that thought process.

Erika Millard

Yeah, that’s awesome. And I feel like it’s so hard sometimes to even assess, okay, what things do I need to DIY? What things do I need to outsource? And it can be kind of overwhelming to figure out all of those pieces. But again, if you can get this simplified to an hour-ish a month, then that makes it easier to feel good about your DIYing decision for a little while.

I feel like you’ll just kind of know if things start feeling more complicated, if you start having thousands of transactions a month, that’s about time when it’s time to delegate like you were saying when it’s taking you four, five, six, seven hours a month, then your time is more valuable to use somewhere else, but you’ll kind of know where that threshold is, I think, for the most part, once you get a good system in place.


Absolutely. And as long as you’re keeping up with do however you want to do it, like journaling or just talking to yourself or whatever, like knowing what’s going on in your business and in your life too, to know when it’s time to make a change, whether it’s something where you need to get a software to automate something or you need to hire it out. It’s just important to know yourself and your business well enough to be able to make those decisions.

Erika Millard

Yeah, and know your options. I think one of my clients when she came to me, she was trying to do her bookkeeping in the notes app of her phone. She was just really confused because that’s where she was tracking what people owed her, who she owed. After all, she was a hair and makeup artist, so she worked with several other contractors. 

She was trying to keep up with who owed her money all in a notes app on her phone, and she was really confused. And I was like, a system is going to help you automate this and she just didn’t even know that was an option. And so when I showed her, okay, like here’s all of the things that it can do for you, she was like, oh my gosh. 

Now she loves using QuickBooks and she loves using it because it’s so much simpler than the complicated notes that she was trying to keep in her phone. So yeah, just also knowing what some of the choices are, I think is helpful too.


Absolutely. On that topic, can you talk a little bit about the accounting softwares that are available to people? I know that the main ones are probably Wave, Quickbooks and Xero. Now, I didn’t even know about Xero until about two years ago. And I had a VIP day with another accountant to go over my books with me. She recommended it and I fell in love with it. It was so simple to use.

I’ve never looked at QuickBooks though, so I don’t know how to compare the two and like what the differences might be, so could you shed a little light on that?

Erika Millard

Yeah, so those are the three main players right now, Wave, QuickBooks, and Xero. Wave is popular because it’s free so if you are a pretty simple business, you don’t need to run payroll, you just want some of the automation-type things that we had mentioned plus some simple reports. If you don’t need complex reports then that can be a good option for you.

Some of the things to consider with it though are some people have expressed concern that well because it’s free at any time they could just eliminate it or force you to pay for it and not have to give you a ton of notice. So that could put you in a bind if you’re middle of the way through the year and you’ve been doing all your bookkeeping through there and then all of a sudden you find out it’s going to go away one day.

I don’t know how practical that is or realistic it is for that to happen, but it is a concern that a lot of bookkeepers talk about. And then the second thing that I want people to consider when they’re considering Wave is I work with a ton of bookkeepers and I’m connected to a ton of bookkeepers and almost none of them work with clients that use Wave.

So it is a good system to get used to systems if you’re DIYing. However, it’s tough to find a bookkeeper that will work in that one. And so over time, if you, by the time you switch over from Wave to QuickBooks or Xero, it just might not be worth the free version because you’re going to be paying for someone to set up a brand new system for you or you’re going to be paying in your time trying to figure out that new system or you just pay someone to convert it all for you which can get really costly. Those are just some things to think about. 

It might be okay for a season like a spreadsheet but it’s probably not going to be the ultimate system that you end up with because there are not a lot of bookkeepers that work with it. So those are a couple of things to consider, but it is a nice free option and will get you used to some of the automation features. 

A lot of people who are like, I think I might DIY my books forever, really like Wave. That can work. And then QuickBooks and Xero are pretty much competitors. They’re pretty equal. I would say in the US at least, QuickBooks is still more of the household name.

However, Xero is supposedly more well-known internationally. So I think it is gaining traction here in the US and there are more and more bookkeepers moving people over there or working with clients in it. But you’re typically going to find more bookkeeper options with QuickBooks just because it’s been around forever and Xero is a little bit newer. 

They both relatively have the same features, it’s just in different looks and feels. So it kind of just depends on what works for your brain. I believe you can set up free trials for either. So that’s usually my recommendation is just kind of play around with both systems, see which one just works better for your brain. That will help you with that decision. 

Or like you said, if you’ve kind of scoped out a bookkeeper that you would love to work with one day and they only work in one or the other, then that might help drive your decision too. But both of those will work with you as you get more complicated. So they’ll provide you with more complex reports and more detailed reports. You can run payroll through there. I believe both have inventory if that’s ever applicable to you later in business or just even breaking things down. 

One client I worked with recently was a restaurant and she had her restaurant but also her catering and so she wanted to be able to see on a project basis all of the income and expenses related to specific projects. So again, just as you get a little bit more complicated, some of these systems can have all of that stuff available to you. It’s nice to have that from the beginning and then just be able to add the features that you need later versus trying to switch to a new system.


That was so clear. As we’re getting towards wrapping up now, do you have any words of encouragement or advice for other homemakers in business who are struggling with either making a pivot in their business or starting their business all while raising a family? I know you’re doing this with three and almost four kids and a husband and you’ve moved recently. So I know you’ve got a lot of good insight.

Erika Millard

Yeah, man, it’s hard to summarize into words, but I just can’t believe how different I feel now that I’m in more of what I enjoy doing. And so my encouragement, I think, is keep taking steps to find that sweet spot where people need you and where your giftings overlap.

I feel like for me that has made the time commitment and even just the ideas and the excitement so much more worth it. You know, I think sometimes, especially as moms, we can just get so torn between, should I be focusing on business and making money or should I be with my family? And so really finding that thing that is like lighting me up has made it so much more clear.

This is for this season because I’m so excited about it. It’s made it so much more worth doing versus a few years ago when I was just kind of feeling blah about everything. And so if it’s just been nagging at you, like just take a step. And so I think I’ve mentioned this too, but sometimes the steps will be a clear no, but that at least helps you get closer to where you’re trying to go.

And so whether it’s a yes or a no, you’ll feel, it just won’t be lingering in your mind like, well, could I do something else or should I do something else? At least you tried it and you knew it was a fail. So, my encouragement is just, you know, take that next step, take the time to figure out where that sweet spot is for you because it’s made it, like I said, just so much more enjoyable and worth doing.

I feel so much more purposeful after finding it, and figuring it out. And so if you’re stuck, my encouragement is to not stay stuck, to just take that step to see what else could be the thing. And it doesn’t, sometimes I look back and it wasn’t even that big of a shift, but how I feel about it is such a different shift. And so anyway, I hope that’s helpful for someone.


That’s beautiful. I love that. Thank you. All right. Now let’s get into some rapid-fire questions that are just some little fun questions I like to ask at the end. So since you did recently move to Alabama, I want to ask what is your favorite thing about moving here? What have you enjoyed?

Erika Millard

Oh man, we have loved the community feel. People have been very welcoming and friendly. And that has been sweet being new because you never really know like how it’s going to be. And like a neighbor still brought us a cake and you know, just all of those sweet things that you’re like, is this dead? It was still very much alive. And so that’s been sweet.


I love that. Southern hospitality is alive and well here! All right, next, what is your favorite non-work-related thing to do?

Erika Millard

My husband was just asking me this the other day on a date night. So that’s so funny. I don’t know if I can narrow it down to one. I like reading fun books. I feel like for so long I tried to just do like all the self-improvement and business and sometimes my brain just needs a break, right? And so especially before going to bed, I like just reading a few pages of a fun book to just kind of wind down. That and then taking baths. I’ve been really into baths lately. Ha ha ha.


I love that. I love baths too. I also love reading while taking a bath. So those are two great things to do together. Oh yeah, that kind of leads me to the next question. What is a book or podcast or another resource that has helped you either in your motherhood, your faith, business, or whatever?

Erika Millard

Yes, exactly. Works out that they go together. Yeah, I’ve been enjoying Christy Wright’s podcast. She has, it’s called Get Your Hopes Up, and it just seems like she’s speaking to me every time. And I don’t know if it’s just the season I’m in, but it’s just been so encouraging. She always has fun stories that she ties into her lessons too. And so I feel like it’s so much easier to connect with when it’s not just like, oh, here’s a fun lesson and story that goes with it.


Yeah, that’s awesome. I’ve had her podcast saved in my podcast app for a while and I haven’t listened to an episode yet so maybe I’ll do that today after we get off.

Erika Millard

Yeah, when I just need something kind of a little different, like not business, but not like give me all the practical tips, but I just need like a little motivational encouragement. That’s the one I go to.


Awesome. I love that. We’ll include that in the show notes for everybody too. And so before we let everyone know where to find you, where to hire you, and all that good stuff, what does being a homemaker in business mean to you?

Erika Millard

Yeah, I like that phrase because I think we can segment both things, right? So to me, that means, you know, we work together, we make the schedule flow together and I think that’s the beautiful thing about running your own business and being able to work from home is that you can like go run a load of laundry real quick in the middle of the day or you can take a walk and do those like self-care things.

There’s that flexibility and freedom to create your own schedule. And so that’s what I feel very thankful for to be running my own business is just not even like the autonomy of the job tasks, but just how my day gets to look. Like we get to create that. And I think that’s a really fun piece of it.


That’s amazing. I love that definition. Thank you. So finally, let’s tell everyone where they can find you, hang out with you, listen to your podcast, all of that.

Erika Millard

Yeah, so my show is Get Comfy with Numbers. It is everywhere that podcasts are. And then I’m on Instagram @erika_millard. I have a complicated spelling, so you’ll definitely wanna look at the show notes for that. And then I have a free resource. If you are someone who DIYs your bookkeeping and you’re not exactly sure what you should even be doing, like the specific tasks to do when you sit down to do your bookkeeping, I have a free checklist that’ll walk you through just six simple things to do every month to be your own bookkeeper. So you can find that on my website, which is just


I love that. Yes, we’ll put all of that in the show notes so everyone can find it real easily. So Erika, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. This was so much fun and I think this will really help a lot of business owners who are DIYing their bookkeeping.

Erika Millard

Yay, I’m so glad, and thanks so much for having me.




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I’m Stephanie, but you can call me Steph!

I design brands & websites that get you butterflies-in-your-stomach-excited about your business again.

Simply put, I’m a graphic designer that specializes in brand identity design and Showit website design - arguably the most important aspects of your business! I live in central Alabama with my high school band directing hubby, Thomas, on our modest homestead in the country.

Grab a cup of cold coffee (be honest, do you ever get to drink it hot?) and let’s chat about your biz needs at my virtual kitchen table


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